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University of Pittsburgh    
2023-2024 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog 
  Jul 23, 2024
2023-2024 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Master of Public Administration/MSW

Joint Degree

Full-time GSPIA students in the MPA, MPIA, or MID programs may pursue two graduate degrees simultaneously, through GSPIA’s partnerships with other professional schools at the University of Pittsburgh (and two foreign universities). Joint programs reduce the number of credits needed for each degree, allowing students to earn two master’s degrees in just three years, or a master’s degree and a law degree in just four years.

To participate in a joint degree program, students apply separately to both schools, and must meet all of the usual admissions requirements. Those applying to the joint JD program with the University of Pittsburgh School of Law may submit an LSAT score as a substitute for GSPIA’s GRE requirement. Those applying to the joint MBA program may submit the GMAT as a substitute for the GRE. If admitted to both schools, students spend one full year in GSPIA followed by a second full year in the other program (or vice versa). During the third and/or fourth year, they spend a minimum of one additional term in GSPIA, earning a total of 36 GSPIA credits.

Although it is possible to apply to both schools at the same time, currently enrolled students may still apply for a joint degree as long as they have not yet completed one year (or, in the case of current law students, two years) of full-time study.

Master of Public Administration and Master of Social Work

Today’s community building arena demands well-trained professionals across a wider array of skills and systems than one degree program may offer. That’s why the joint degree program between GSPIA and School of Social Work provides students with focused professional education in the community building arena to prepare them for careers in non-profit and government organizations, community development, social policy, and urban and regional affairs.


Joint-degree students take a minimum of 36 credits and must have 3 terms of GSPIA residency. Students must graduate from both schools at the same time. No course may be double-counted.  Any course taken to fulfill a requirement for the degree in one program cannot also count toward the degree in the other program. Joint degree students should contact their GSPIA Graduate Enrollment Counselor once a term for advising. Graduate Enrollment Counselors advise for GSPIA programs only. Joint degree students must meet with an advisor from both schools.

Requirements for the joint degree MPA/MSW

Concentration Courses: 9-12 credits

(see Concentration-Specific requirements)

Minimum Required GSPIA Credits: 36 credits

Master of Social Work requirements: 51 credits

(see Social Work website for requirements)

Total Number of Credits for Joint Degree: 87

Concentration Specific Requirements:

Energy & Environment explores the politics and policies of the worldwide energy industry, examining ways to meet global energy needs in a sustainable, environmentally conscious way. Pittsburgh is a global epicenter of one of the biggest energy revolutions of the 21st century - the shale gas boom. New technologies like “fracking” are making billions of dollars of natural gas accessible to world markets for the first time, generating thousands of new jobs from Europe to North America. Western Pennsylvania sits atop one of the largest and most productive shale deposits anywhere on the planet, raising major questions about how to extract the gas responsibly, how to protect communities from environmental harm, and how to tax and regulate the rapid growth. GSPIA Students study the economics of the global energy industry, environmental sustainability, and regulatory policy in one of the world’s best living laboratories. Graduates are prepared for jobs at environmental protection agencies, energy corporations, and a host of local, state, and national government offices that make energy policy.

Energy and Environment

Concentration Specific Requirements:

Governance and International Public Management provides a comparative perspective on international development, focusing on the ways in which public and nonprofit organizations must adapt to meet the different cultural, political, and economic circumstances of the communities they serve.

It explores how public agencies around the globe, faced with similar problems like poverty, illiteracy, and inequality, have addressed those issues differently in different countries. Students confront the challenges of implementing complex policies in a global, multicultural context. This major focuses on developing the management and analytical skills necessary to take leadership roles in the multilateral sector, governments abroad, or any organization that delivers services internationally. Graduates are well-prepared to pursue careers at the United Nations, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and similar organizations.

Governance & International Public Management

Students must take one of the following five courses:

Concentration Specific Requirements:

Today’s policymakers require analytical skills from a variety of disciplines: quantitative, economic, political, and organizational. Students in the policy research & analysis major enjoy access to a rich array of resources to help them prepare for careers in both the public and private sectors. Recent graduates of our program have gone on to work in such careers as budget examiners for the state of New York, analysts for the Government Accountability Office and the U.S. Mint and consultants for the leading firm Booz Allen Hamilton.

Motivated and inquisitive people looking to acquire the technical skills and knowledge to contribute to research and policymaking decisions will appreciate our curriculum. It is infused with a rich variety of interdisciplinary viewpoints to give students a well-informed view of policy analysis that is both national and international in scope.

Policy Research & Analysis

Concentration Specific Requirements:

Public service is a discipline practiced at many levels: local, national and international often with ripple effects across each. Through grassroots contributions and global applications, GSPIA students pursuing a public & nonprofit management major acquire a deep understanding of the many contexts in which public and nonprofit organizations operate. Many look forward to the opportunity to leverage change in a mixed economy.

Our curriculum stresses responsible leadership and our students develop the skills to diagnose leadership challenges and opportunities from a variety of ethical and moral frameworks. Our interdisciplinary approach draws from a variety of fields such as philosophy, law, organizational design and political science. Our approach gives students the skills they need to meet the challenges of a world in which services increasingly span boundaries among business, government and nonprofit organizations.

Public & Nonprofit Management

Concentration Specific Requirements:

Gain the quantitative, political, administrative and legal skills to analyze social needs and policy impact on human lives worldwide. You’ll learn to monitor, evaluate, and communicate data to convey the consequences of policy development and implementation.

Social Policy

Concentration Specific Requirements:

The major in Urban Affairs and Planning takes a city-focused perspective on urban development. More than half of the world’s people now live in urban areas, raising important questions about how governments should meet the public’s needs for transportation, health and sanitation, education, and other essential services.

As the developing world urbanizes, and the developed world undergoes redevelopment, booming cities like Shanghai, Mumbai, Buenos Aires, and Johannesburg face critical challenges, including poverty, homelessness, and pollution, while other cities in developed countries, like Newcastle and Pittsburgh, face similar challenges of their own. The concentration prepares students to confront those problems while developing valuable skills in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), regional economic planning, sustainable development management, and social justice in the context of urban development.

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